A friend of the family members killed when a car drove through the beer garden of a Victorian pub has revealed she found out the tragic news from “a screenshot”.
Melbourne lawyer Pratibha Sharma, her partner Jatin Chugh and Pratibha’s nine-year-old daughter Anvi, along with their friend Vivek Bahtia and his 11-year-old son Vihaan, were killed when a BMW hit patrons at the Royal Hotel beer garden in Daylesford on Sunday.
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Bahtia’s 36-year-old wife Ruchi and other son, aged six, were also injured and both remain in a stable condition in hospital.
On Tuesday, close friend Dr Sonia Singh said she at first thought the news was “a prank” when she was told.
Melbourne lawyer Pratibha Sharma, her partner Jatin Chugh and her nine-year-old daughter Anvi. Credit: 7NEWS
“I got a screenshot from a friend just saying that something like this has happened and is that your friend Pratibha?” Singh told Sunrise.
“And I was like, this is a prank. That can’t happen because we knew that they are out and about for the long weekend.
“Then the calls started to come on my phone just sharing that this has happened and then it started to sink in.”
Singh said she got in her car and drove straight to Pratibha’s home in Point Cook, calling mutual friends on the way.
“The whole family has gone within seconds. Everybody, Pratibha, her husband and her daughter, Anvi. Everyone has gone,” she said.
“Jatin who passed away, Pratibha’s husband, his family is in India and it is really hard when the parents are overseas that the kids have passed away in a shocking tragic news like this. It is very heartbreaking.
“We should be feeling safe sitting on the sides. We all do it, we Melburnians we all sit on the side of a cafe and just enjoy our coffees and food. This is just very sad.”
Dr Sonia Singh. Credit: Sunrise
Singh said Pratibha is “well respected, loved, caring and was the glue to all her friends” keeping everyone together.
As well as the Sharma and Bahtia families, the injured also include a 43-year-old Kyneton woman and 38-year-old Cockatoo man who are known to each other.
An 11-month-old boy, who was sitting with them, was injured and is in a stable condition while his mother, 34, was uninjured.
The 66-year-old driver remains in hospital with shock and minor injuries and is expected to be interviewed by police on Tuesday.
He did not have alcohol in his system and was not known to police.
“All lines of inquiry are open to us on this occasion, including a medical episode. We will explore every avenue,” Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said on Monday.
More than 200 community members gathered at a vigil at Daylesford’s Victoria Park on Monday night, including Victorian Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas and federal Infrastructure Minister Catherine King.
The emotional crowd was urged to reach out to support services if they were struggling.
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